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  1. #1
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    Default Good bee trees in Illinois?

    Hello! I was wondering, what are some good trees that reside in Illinois (or that will survive in Illinois without becoming very invasive) that are a major bee favorite? Also, it has to be a tree that doesn't get too large. I was thinking about getting a tulip poplar but they are said to grow pretty large, and I'm not sure if I'll have enough space for it in the future. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Good bee trees in Illinois?

    Tulip Poplars do not grow pretty large,...they get massive!
    It takes a family to raise a family, it takes a village to really screw that up... Djei5

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Good bee trees in Illinois?

    Quote Originally Posted by djei5 View Post
    Tulip Poplars do not grow pretty large,...they get massive!
    Haha, that they do. What I said was an understatement! But if in the future if I have a large plot of land I'll plant a tree or too.

    And I was looking into black locust, but I keep getting conflicting responses of how large they get. Can anyone chime in?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Good bee trees in Illinois?

    It takes a family to raise a family, it takes a village to really screw that up... Djei5

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Good bee trees in Illinois?

    Quote Originally Posted by djei5 View Post
    Just when I read it was a medium sized tree .-.
    Does anyone know of a small to mediumish sized tree that bees love?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Good bee trees in Illinois?

    What about a buckeye tree (need shallow wetter soils), not sure if bees enjoy the nectar but the blooms are beatiful in spring. GO BUCKS!!!!

    Yellow Tulip poplar will eventually grow huge in the wild. Their trunks are straight like telephone poles, 3-4 ft in diameter. I bet there are smaller propagated varieties available at nurseries.

    Most crab apples, magnolias are on the smaller side along with crepe myrtle. red bud (need afternoon shade)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Good bee trees in Illinois?

    Linden/Basswood and Black Locus are really the only two that I can think of around here that the bees love. I have seen them on ash and maple but nothing like they swarm to Black Locus and Linden/Basswood. Not too many Tulip Poplars in N. Illinois by me.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Good bee trees in Illinois?

    Quote Originally Posted by khaas15 View Post
    Linden/Basswood and Black Locus are really the only two that I can think of around here that the bees love. I have seen them on ash and maple but nothing like they swarm to Black Locus and Linden/Basswood. Not too many Tulip Poplars in N. Illinois by me.
    Basswood - Nice trees, they will grow huge in time.

    Ash - Most likely will be wiped out by green emerald borer.

    Black Locust - Considered a trash tree by most, not very nice tree near home. Very invasive, send out many shooters. Thorns are nasty, and the honey produced primarly by black locust has a bitter aftertaste. There is a lady in our club who lives near a ton of them and the honey not great. If i was her I would move my hives. However, bees do love em and they smell pretty nice when flowering.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Good bee trees in Illinois?

    I'm just a bit north of you, but if they grow up here, they'll probably grow down there. Silver Linden trees are excellent, as are Washington Hawthorns. I've heard the balck locust/honey locust and tulip poplars are good, but I've never observed bees on them. I'm trying to grow two beebee trees. We'll see if that works. Good luck!
    "Life will find a way - it always finds a way." -Jurassic Park (MOVIE/BOOK)
    USDA Zone 5a

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Good bee trees in Illinois?

    Quote Originally Posted by burns375 View Post
    What about a buckeye tree (need shallow wetter soils), not sure if bees enjoy the nectar but the blooms are beatiful in spring. GO BUCKS!!!!

    Yellow Tulip poplar will eventually grow huge in the wild. Their trunks are straight like telephone poles, 3-4 ft in diameter. I bet there are smaller propagated varieties available at nurseries.

    Most crab apples, magnolias are on the smaller side along with crepe myrtle. red bud (need afternoon shade)
    My neighbor actually has a crab apples, but I've never seen any bees on it at all. Hopefully I'll find smaller ones, but I haven't seen a buckeye here before. I'll look into the others, thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by khaas15 View Post
    Linden/Basswood and Black Locus are really the only two that I can think of around here that the bees love. I have seen them on ash and maple but nothing like they swarm to Black Locus and Linden/Basswood. Not too many Tulip Poplars in N. Illinois by me.
    Oh okay thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by burns375 View Post
    Basswood - Nice trees, they will grow huge in time.

    Ash - Most likely will be wiped out by green emerald borer.

    Black Locust - Considered a trash tree by most, not very nice tree near home. Very invasive, send out many shooters. Thorns are nasty, and the honey produced primarly by black locust has a bitter aftertaste. There is a lady in our club who lives near a ton of them and the honey not great. If i was her I would move my hives. However, bees do love em and they smell pretty nice when flowering.
    Are Basswoods slow growers? And I thought that in one part of Europe they prize black locust honey taste? Forgive me if I'm wrong though. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirk Osborne View Post
    I'm just a bit north of you, but if they grow up here, they'll probably grow down there. Silver Linden trees are excellent, as are Washington Hawthorns. I've heard the balck locust/honey locust and tulip poplars are good, but I've never observed bees on them. I'm trying to grow two beebee trees. We'll see if that works. Good luck!
    Thanks, you too!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Good bee trees in Illinois?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick S. View Post

    And I thought that in one part of Europe they prize black locust honey taste? Forgive me if I'm wrong though. Thanks!
    I confused honey locust and black locust. Honey locus is to be avoided, has thorns, sends out lots of suckers, doesn't produce much, found along highways, etc. Black locust is thornless much larger tree, wood is notty and strong, does not rot and is often used for fence posts in the country. Black locust honey I tasted was not great, perhaps its prized bc the trees do not always bloom every year. Demand driven by scarsity. Do you plan on selling your "prized" honey to england? bc one tree will not make your honey black locust. LOL

    My neighbor has a 1.5 ft dia black locust in his front yard, a pretty ugly tree outside of bloom but the bees do love it. One tree will take atleast 20 years to approach a significant impact on honey production if ever. A farm or field full is another story. I would rather have a good-looking tree I enjoy, than one just for honey bees and other native pollinators. I find it funny when people plant small patches of wildflowers and herbs and single trees to "support" the honey bees. Like yeah that really helped.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Good bee trees in Illinois?

    Quote Originally Posted by burns375 View Post
    I confused honey locust and black locust. Honey locus is to be avoided, has thorns, sends out lots of suckers, doesn't produce much, found along highways, etc. Black locust is thornless much larger tree, wood is notty and strong, does not rot and is often used for fence posts in the country. Black locust honey I tasted was not great, perhaps its prized bc the trees do not always bloom every year. Demand driven by scarsity. Do you plan on selling your "prized" honey to england? bc one tree will not make your honey black locust. LOL

    My neighbor has a 1.5 ft dia black locust in his front yard, a pretty ugly tree outside of bloom but the bees do love it. One tree will take atleast 20 years to approach a significant impact on honey production if ever. A farm or field full is another story. I would rather have a good-looking tree I enjoy, than one just for honey bees and other native pollinators. I find it funny when people plant small patches of wildflowers and herbs and single trees to "support" the honey bees. Like yeah that really helped.
    Ohh, okay gotcha. I don't mean to get 'prized' honey in any way, I was just asking because that's what I heard and all haha.

    I'm just trying to look for some trees that look good to the eye that also have a dual purpose, which is to help provide nectar/pollen. I plan on planting a plot of small field of edible plants as well as some flowers in the future so haha.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Good bee trees in Illinois?

    Hey there, I just joined the forum and saw your question. Let me get this straight. You are looking for a tree that will attract bees but be small enough and have enough ornamental value to place it on a small Chicago lot?

    If so, I am in a similar predicament and spent a lot of time researching this topic. One thing that was important to me was also providing a food source during the late summer gap when there seems to be little blooming. Here is what was suggested to me:

    Heptacodium miconioides
    Koelreuteria paniculata 'Rose Lantern'
    Koelreuteria paniculata 'September'
    Rhus chinensis
    Some of the native, shrubby aralia species

    I loved all of these options, but because the tree also had to be ornamental, I settled on Koelreuteria paniculata 'Rose Lantern'. This tree blooms in late August through mid September (the unselected species typically blooms in mid or late June around here) and then has striking, inflated rose-colored seed pods that will eventually provide contrast to the yellow autumn foliage. The golden yellow blooms are said to attract bees in droves. And because this clone flowers so late, seed usually doesn't have quite enough time to ripen completely in these parts, which cuts down on self-seeding. I planted a small one from ForestFarm this spring and it has grown about 3 feet over the summer with lovely ferny foliage. A caveat: the straight unselected species has been known to be invasive in warmer areas of North America, including far southern Illinois. There are no reports of invasiveness this far north and cold winters will likely prevent it from reaching monster proportions.

    Did you ever decide on a tree?
    I am not a beekeeper, just a keen gardener concerned about bees and other pollinators.

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